Howard-Cooper cites "several league executives" as his source of information.
"He’s out there," said a member of one personnel department, meaning Marshall is available.
"They’re trying to attach him to pretty much any deal that comes up," another executive said here at summer league. "If you want to talk about any of their players, they include him. He’s basically the price of admission to any trade right now."
Suns GM Ryan McDonough has denied that they're actively looking to ship Marshall out of town, however.
"I wouldn’t say he’s available," Suns general manager Ryan McDonough, hired in May, said Monday. "Everybody has a price, right? It depends on what that price is. As you saw out there today, he’s been working very hard on his shot. He made a couple 3-pointers, made the game-tying shot. I think that’ll be the next step in Kendall’s development. He’s also worked very hard on his body. As you can probably tell, he’s in good shape now. He has the natural, innate passing ability to find guys.
"We view Bledsoe and Dragic as guards who can play together some. It’s not going to be Bledsoe or Dragic. Most of the time, it’s going to be Bledsoe and Dragic together. You need more than two, obviously. Those guys aren’t going to play 48 minutes, and I think Kendall’s shown he’d be pretty good in the backup role."
No GM is going to just come out and say "Of course I want to trade this guy." In this situation it's McDonough's word against the word of un-nmed executives from other teams.
This report does make plenty of sense. Marshall was drafted by the previous regime and McDonough and company have no attachment to him. The Suns do have a crowded backcourt with Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe, Shannon Brown and rookie Archie Goodwin. Diante Garrett is still under contract at the moment as well.
But as McDonough said, the plan is to play Dragic and Bledsoe together a lot which means Marshall isn't really a third-stringer. Unless they plan on staggering their minutes and making sure at least one of them is on the court at all times, somebody has to run the point when those two are resting. Marshall has played pretty well in Vegas so far and could be ready for minutes when the season kicks off. Unless the Suns feel confident Goodwin, who the team reportedly views as point guard long-term, is ready to play minutes right away or they think Garrett can fill in for short stretches, there is a role for Marshall on this team.
Howard-Cooper went on NBA TV to talk about his report, and cited Marshall's inability to pay in an uptempo system as part of the reasoning for moving him. As I've said before, that simply isn't true as Marshall is better in transition than he is in the halfcourt right now.
What do you think Bright Siders? Are the Suns trying to move Kendall Marshall after just one year?
Before we get into this game, let's give credit where credit is due. Marcus Morris had a big steal and the game-winning shot but the Suns wouldn't have been close enough late in this game if Kendall Marshall hadn't drained two threes in the final two minutes of the game.
I really don't know what to make of these shots from Kendall.
He didn't look good for most of the game, a fact his head coach acknowledged, but when it was time to step up Marshall reversed his trend of passing up shot opportunities and he drained the big buckets. He finished with 13 points on 3-6 shooting (3-5 from three) and had six assists and no turnovers.
Does this change the way I feel about this young player? No...at least not yet.
Marcus Morris explains game-winning shot and slow start.
"Kendall can shoot it when he's out there and he's left open. What we're always talking to him about is getting his shot up. He's going to prove he can make those shots and all of sudden they're going to guard him a little harder but today he shot it with confidence, it was right there, and he hit two huge shots for us," Hornacek said after the game.
Look, coach is right of course. But I'll be happy with him just taking and hitting those open shots and forcing the defense to respect him enough to open up some more passing lanes. Too many times I saw him drive and the defenders just stayed home and he turned down open 10 and 15 foot pull-up jumpers. Realistically, there's a lot of guys that can hit wide open threes. If Kendall is at least one of those, we can start talking about the next steps.
As for the differences between the first quarter (Suns went down 32-14) and the second half (they won 60-50), Marcus Morris put the blame on the dreaded "E" word.
"Our energy early on wasn't matching their energy. In the second half, that was the main thing in the locker room, was to come out with energy," the smaller Morris said before adding this bit about pride, "It was kind of embarrassing. We had the most veteran guys on our team. We actually have (NBA) starters, so we definitely had to step it up and match their intensity and once we did that it showed."
Both Marcus and Coach Jeff said that the plan is for this Morris to play a "big three" in the regular season. He's mostly played the four in Summer League with Markieff at the five, but the plan is for him to play small forward.
The energy and intensity were certainly an issue early in the game, but the Suns were also running a tightly controlled version of their motion offense in the first quarter. Assistant coach Jerry Sichting explains:
"We've got a play that's got a flex cut in it where we're trying to post up and we didn't do a very good job feeding the post when we were making that cut. It's timing...We've let them play in the second half. That's the thing. We scored 50 points, I believe, in the second half in Game 1 against Portland and tonight we got 60 in the second half. We've tried to tell them that we want to play with pace and that eventually we'll wear teams down and the first two games, anyway, it's come to fruition."
What I saw sitting a few rows up on the sideline was the Suns calling and trying to run the exact same play every time down the floor. It wasn't working but this is not a regular game and the coaching staff kept trying to give them opportunities to get it right. When they finally turned the dogs loose the Summer Suns extra talent was able to shine and the results have been two-straight wins.
-- Markieff finished with 22 points and six rebounds (and seven fouls in a very poorly officiated game). He had 16 of those in the second half.
-- Dionte Christmas showed why he's close to being an NBA player but not quite there. He added 16 off the bench and showed good poise but nothing special about his game that makes you want to spend a roster spot on him.
-- The Suns tried to give Goodwin some looks at point guard but it wasn't really anything to write home about. As expected, his best move was coast-to-coast finish off a rebound where he was able to show his speed and athleticism. You might as well just think "raw talent" every time you see/hear the name "Archie Goodwin".
-- The BIG THREE BIGS all looked like non-NBA players. Onuaku was the best of the bunch showing his energy and rebounding ability (six boards in 16 minutes) but he doesn't seem to have good hands or much skill at all offensively. The other two looked worse so far. I suspect that we'll see less and less of the Morris brothers at the four and five and these cats will get increased minutes as the week goes on. Maybe.
The Suns, and more importantly their fans, will get a second look at future Hall of Famer, Archie Goodwin and his sidekicks, the Morris twins, Diante Garrett, P.J. Tucker, and Dwayne Collins. Kendall Marshall will also likely play but as we all know, Summer League isn't his best format. I'm not exactly sure what outside UNC is his best format, but he's still young so that's cool and stuff.
The Timberwolves feature one of my all-time favorite Senegalese players individuals, Gorgui Dieng. Dieng started at the five in the Wolves first game against the D-league Select team. He played 22 minutes and recorded four points, four rebounds, three turnovers, two blocks and only three fouls! To be fair, he was playing against the likes of Darnell Jackson.
The enigmatic Shabazz Muhammad is also on Monday's docket. The former UCLA Bruin went 3-7 (7 points) in his first 24 minutes as a pro.
- Will Kendall Marshall shoot more than two threes? Will he make more than four buckets? Will he show us anything more than he showed us at the end of last season?
- A consistent theme around these Vegas Summer League parts is young, first-time players who struggle in their first professional game but then quickly find their confidence and show some progress. Others, however, don't do that. Which of those will be Archie Goodwin? The world wants to know.
- Can the Morris bros continue to do what they should be doing in their third summer as NBA pros (but only their second Summer League due to the lockout)? Both looked solid and mature on the court in the first game. It's quite possible that they see their minutes cut as the team shifts focus to other players they want to see. That's common with "veterans" like the Morri.
- P.J. Tucker, see above. I really have no idea why he's even here other than to be a positive example to the young'uns.
- I have to think (and also I read Jim's great interview quotes from GM McRyan) that the Suns will find a roster spot (sorry, Diante) for another big and the three bigs they have here in Vegas qualify as BIG. Onuaku got the most minutes and showed his advanced age (26) compared to the younger and more inexperienced Oriakhi and Collins. Those rotations could change as the week goes on. Or not.
GAME TIME: 3:30pm PT and AZT. The game will stream live on ESPN3 (online) and then should be replayed at some point on NBA TV.
A year ago yesterday, the drama between the Phoenix Suns and the New Orleans Hornets (nee Pelicans) over 23 year old shooting guard Eric Gordon came to an end when the Hornets matched the Suns' maximum-salary offer of $58 million over four years.
The uber-talented but often injured Gordon, a restricted free agent, refused contract-extension offers and asked the Big Easy to let him jump ship to the Suns. But the Hornets had no interest in letting Gordon leave after he'd been the centerpiece of the Chris Paul trade, so they matched the max offer despite Gordon's attitude.
Before his injuries and commitment issues in New Orleans, Eric Gordon was a rising star in Los Angeles. In three Clipper seasons, Gordon put up 16.1, 16.9 and 22.3 points per game, supported by 38% three-point shooting on five attempts per game. Gordon also drives hard to the hoop and passes well (3 assists per game), while providing strong defense on the other end of the court.
The teams reportedly did not even engage in trade discussions during the three-day matching period. If the Hornets were ready to rid themselves of Gordon, they could have taken back Robin Lopez (who was traded to NOLA later that summer in a 3-team trade that netted the Suns Wes Johnson and a future #1 pick, who then traded him again a year later for future second round pick).
Truly, the Hornets were not about to let their most talented player walk away no matter how badly he may have wanted to go.
Instead, they decided to pay $14 million per year to a guy who had played only 9 of 66 games in the 2011-12 season, sitting out for unspecified knee pain, after playing 196 of 246 games in his first three years with the LA Clippers.
The Suns were left holding the proverbial bag. Their grand scheme included a potential All-Star talent at shooting guard flanked by the talented Goran Dragic in a two-headed backcourt of driving and dishing to open three-point shooters in Jared Dudley, Channing Frye and free agent signee Michael Beasley.
Those Suns could have been young and exciting, with at least one young player who would earn All-Star buzz every season.
Instead, the Phoenix Suns lost the potential All-Star and soon after that lost one of those good three-point shooters in Channing Frye (heart ailment).
Neither team "won" the Eric Gordon derby in the 2012-13 season.
The Hornets paid Gordon $13.668 million to pout and sit out another 40 of 82 games over that same mysterious knee pain. Again, the Hornets doctors could not pinpoint the issue and Gordon had no surgery*. He eventually returned to the Hornets lineup, scoring 17.2 points per game. The Hornets were 16-26 with Gordon in the lineup vs. 11-29 without.
*Gordon did have surgery in May, after the season, to clean up debris in an ankle and should be fine for training camp.
The Hornets reportedly tried to shop Gordon all season but, just like the Phoenix Suns the summer before, no one wanted to pay Gordon all that money AND give up a lot of talent in trade.
Due to the matching rules in the CBA, the Hornets had trade restrictions on Gordon the entire season. They couldn't trade Gordon to Phoenix at all, and couldn't trade him to anyone else without his permission.
The Suns, as you all know, executed Plan B which was a lay low and ride out the season with an incomplete roster. They talked a big game, hoping for playoffs and such, but you can't make the playoffs without talent.
One year later
As of yesterday, New Orleans is allowed to trade Gordon anywhere they want, without his permission. They could even trade him to Phoenix if they wanted to. But Gordon is still an injury risk and, coupled with his big salary, cannot demand too much in trade value.
But does New Orleans (now named the Pelicans) even want to trade Gordon anymore?
The Pelicans want to make the playoffs next season, and they are now making every effort to load the team with more talent. In a matter of weeks, they have brought in two of Gordon's former AAU mates in All-Star PG Jrue Holiday and mercurial, position-less Tyreke Evans for the tidy sum of $20 million per year.
Holiday is truly a PG, and Gordon is truly a SG. The 6'6" Evans can play PG, SG and SF but really doesn't like playing small forward. He wants the ball in his hands, as do Holiday and Gordon.
To put Evans in the starting lineup moves three-point shooting Ryan Anderson from SF to PF, and second-year whisper-thin Anthony Davis from PF to C in their most talented lineup. This lineup would have real trouble holding the opponent under 100 points per game, but at the least the offense would be prolific.
While Gordon is now excited about playing for the Pelicans, it's quite possible that the acquisitions of Evans and Holiday were simply to put the Pelicans in position to trade Gordon without taking a major hit in talent. Plus it would allow the Pelicans to finally turn the tables on Gordon after being held hostage by his pouting for the last two seasons.
But do the Phoenix Suns still need Gordon?
In a word, yes. The least-talented team in the West still needs any top-end talent they can get. But it's not as simple as that.
The Suns just acquired former Gordon teammate Eric Bledsoe to play the two-headed ball handling game with Goran Dragic they'd envisioned Gordon to play. To add Gordon, the Suns would be committing to the same kind of match-game lineup problems as New Orleans faces, yet with even more trouble because none of these guys can shift to SF due to size problems (none over 6'3").
But the Suns don't have any All-Stars. They still need to acquire more and more talent any way they can, and a young (still just 24) two-way playing shooting guard with All-Star talent cannot be ignored.
What the Suns have to decide is whether they want to trade $14+ million in salaries (likely expiring) plus potentially a young asset to acquire an expensive, injury-prone player who forces one of Bledsoe/Dragic to the bench?
Plus, acquiring the long-term contract of Gordon would take the Suns out of the free agent market until at least 2015 and could possibly take them out of the top 5 draft picks next spring - a draft loaded with potential franchise players. Acquiring someone like Gordon would be tempting for a quick turnaround, but is it worth the cost?